Friday, August 12, 2022

The Weird Underbelly of the American Preppy Style

On Friday night at the Javits Center, a Thom Browne confection saw countless demi-celebrities clutching tiny teddy bears in their arms and staring at a field of five hundred more teddy bears sitting with alarming uniformity. Teddy bears can’t move, so I guess I shouldn’t have worried — but by and large, the calmness of these playful little prepsters had an almost hysterical, horror movie effect. (You can say the same about seeing groups of people in Brown’s clothes.)

Models with two- and three-model-tall bags stepped out, and a model in big furry platform shoes and paws and a stovepipe hat with tiny bear ears announced as a voiceover, “In My Teddy Talk you are welcome!” (It was technically Thom Browne’s Fall 2022 show, which is taking place all these months after New York Fashion Week, presumably to scoop up some of the city’s celebrities for Monday’s gala.)

And then 25 killer preppy looks are on display with great herringbone and houndstooth and pinstripe and window dresses representative tie stripes and white and gray piping. The silhouette was almost unchanged – a short jacket with bracelet-length sleeves, a knife-pleat and A-line skirt over trousers, a long lean jacket with large platform boots. It’s amazing what you can do with that palette of clothing—clothes never look redundant—and I thought it was one of the most convincing and elegant statements I’ve ever made from Brown, who is full of skill, complete Well built. As he said backstage, it looks expensive because it is! Come to think of it, a lot of designers can’t really say that right now.

then came toys, ,Let’s hear it too!!!) wobbling over platform shoes made from a stack of classic alphabet blocks, gray flannel and giant concoctions of plaid and stripes. There was a tennis sweater that was a tennis ball. There were lobsters. Slinkies! tube! a jacket dressed as a jacket, Big sloppy cable knit and crazy jumbo quilted coat!

Why? Because why not! You know, in America, the Airhead and the Sphinx are often the same thing. It’s Warhol, It’s Bimbo, It’s Hot Dogs And Milkshakes And Hot Fudge Sunday Meal, That’s what I love about this country – and the only thing left to love is it!

A voiceover explained the two parts—25 straight preppy looks, and 25 crazy playful conceptual preppy looks—as New Yorkers meet their real ones. Brown put it more bluntly backstage: “New York is the island of misfit toys, and everyone comes here to find themselves or make their own,” he said. It was a portrait of New Yorkers “finding themselves in their toy version.” It’s true — and one of the best things about New York, in fact — that living in the city is a process of autobiography. You move to New York to find like-minded weirdos and create an even more quirky version of yourself. In other words, you reveal your inner whims.

Brown has become the leading American expert on the inner craze. He started out as a guy with a quirky idea about suiting—short in leg and arm—that, unlike many other sewing trends (say, skinny suits) doesn’t look dated. In fact, it still makes people feel weird. Deviation from the norm is still a no-no in America, especially when it comes to clothing; It’s always funny to me that of all the horrors we’ve endured (and created) in this country, people are still out here complaining about Ugg boots, Crocs, leggings, and suits that don’t fit properly. do not fit.

In America, the Airhead and the Sphinx are often the same thing.

But somehow, perhaps since he started showing on and off in Paris in 2017, Brown’s ability mental has evolved as a movement, or at least with some more urgency. In part, it’s a matter of time. Their menswear often reads as a statement about queerness – a camp information about deviation from norms – and it happened to align with the obsession with identity politics that has overtaken celebrity style. . Still, her most radical statements happen with her most straightforward clothing—a man in a pleated Thom Browne skirt just sets people off. off, It’s pretty awesome.

I recently wondered if Brown might be doing the same for women. To be sure, Brown has his womenswear devotees. International best-dressed list keeper Amy Fine Collins, film director Jennica Bravo and model Ella Emhoff, who were in attendance Friday, all looked great in their clothes. But their men’s clothing has a magical quality that harnesses the male ego-What if I tried on just one skirt? Women’s clothing, generally speaking, has been too serious for a very long time — or worse, a bunch of silly gimmicks that feel too thin to really mean anything to a woman who doesn’t like her style. I want to make a strong statement with Although some of New York’s best brands right now are being extremely fickle—like Colina Strada and Christopher John Rogers, and even Rachel Comey and The Row being goofy—we really don’t have a level playing field. We could use something along the lines of “oh heck let’s just try it” realizing that men have a Thom Browne skirt.

Some people don’t have the patience for crazy concept clothing, but, with the quasi-political undercurrent of the Brown movement, these felt special. At first, they just had so much technical finesse—they were a lot of fun to check out in person—but taken together, they made a crazy and brilliant statement, to me, about the escapist potential of preppy clothing. Brown has tried this type of conceptual clothing before—his shows almost always have a short framing narrative like this, and since they started showing in Paris, almost all of their collections have a variety of costumes and fabrics. There has been a “considered lobster”. Sculptural gown on which armholes set your limbs on your chest like a frozen Irving Penn model and trompe l’oeil Deluxe, But they were implemented at another level. (You can tell that Brown himself marveled backstage.)

Thom Browne Spring 2022

Courtesy of Thom Browne.

Thom Browne Spring 2022

Courtesy of Thom Browne.

Womenswear doesn’t have the political playground that menswear does (maybe the closest thing we have to a Thom Brown men’s skirt is a cat hat, and no thanks for that). So instead, as I looked at all these big ridiculous clothes, I started thinking: What if we started thinking about escapism in a new way? In beauty form to distract us from the woes of the world not because it seems so impossible, but from everyday fatigue? And we saw clothing as a solution not only to make life easier or a little prettier, which is what womenswear has been about until recently—but also as the possibility of slipping into the sublime and ridiculous, even for a few hours. in the form of? What if you could climb into one of these Thom Browne machines for inner eccentricity and realize that from the wide gear of the athleisure, to the TikTok trend forecast, the deliciously minimalist has turned into something different? and feel bound by pure freak fashion, And what if wearing one of those great quirky suits—or even just shrunken jackets or pleated skirts in crazy mismatched, almost feminist answers to what Tom Wolfe deemed “go to hell” pants—you Could give a bit of that feeling? it all felt like an invitation experiment,

Thom Browne Spring 2022

Courtesy of Thom Browne.

Thom Browne Spring 2022

Courtesy of Thom Browne.

A lot of American designers have gone into existential explorations about American fashion. is In the middle of the two-parter of the Costume Institute on this topic. The second half, with its attendant gala, opens on Monday, and of course Brown’s partner, Andrew Bolton, is the curator in charge. Almost all the designers who have done this have spoken about the language of American games, almost something of the vernacular. Brown brushed off backstage—it’s the stitching that really brings her joy. Preppy clothes are America’s bimbo-sphinx fashion. They are full of messages about power and elitism and yet they are so simple, so wearable, and often so silly and even dumb. They invite the wearer to mix colors and patterns in an outrageous way. In other words, they are clothing that inspires style, which in America is truly self-invented. Through Brown, I took a fresh look at his peculiar underbelly.

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